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Posts Tagged ‘Shane Meadows’

Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee: Shane Meadows has quietly gone ahead and revolutionized the medium of cinema as we know it. He has created one of the best indie  comedies ever in five measly days. Five fuckin’ days, people. James Cameron must have spent five weeks, feeling the roughness of the Avatar’s prosthetic skin against his cheek. Kollywood directors would spend at least five months convincing veteran actors that nobody in their fan club has ever heard of male pattern baldness. Chances are Paul Haggis will probably spend the next five decades, researching the impact of racism on zebras. Here, Shane Meadows has given us a million outrageously funny one-liners, fantastic music, cameos by Arctic Monkeys and a brilliant performance by Paddy Constantine (who has previously worked with him in several films).

Shot in the vein of An Incident At Loch Ness (in which we get the impression that only half the crew are aware that it is a work of fiction), it is a mockumentary that chronicles the adventure of Le Donk (Paddy), a self-obsessed roadie/failed musician who has delusions of grandeur and Scor-zay-zee (Dean Palinczuk playing himself), a white rapper he saves from a cholesterol fatality, that ends up on the main stage of an Arctic Monkeys concert. Paddy Constantine’s timing is off the hook and makes every gag look funnier than it ever could; fewer times has plain disdain for any sort of decorum seemed funnier. Even the all-too convenient feel-good factor that plays peekaboo towards the end is pleasantly digestible. Shane Meadows and the rest of the crew deserve every bit of praise they’ve been getting for this one. In case somebody has anything harsh to say to them, they can just snicker, “Fuck you, man…we shot this in 5 days.”

Men Who Stare At Goats: George Clooney suddenly becomes watchable when his character loses his mind, and finds a moustache. The films in which he’s not terrible – Welcome To Collinwood, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind and Oh Brother Where Art Thou – have him playing moustached weirdos. Grant HeslovMen Who Stare At Goats is no different in the sense that it uses facial hair and many wonderfully weird characters to divert our attention from Clooney’s mediocre acting. The storyline is so absurdly enjoyable that you would have to be French or seriously miserable in life to dislike it. It has a foolhardy reporter (Ewan McGregor) teaming up with a former psychic spy (Clooney) to fight military oppression, governmental secrecy and an evil-as-fuck Kevin Spacey. The film epitomizes how absurdist humour cuts an actor down to size and enemas (can that be used as a verb?) the A-list aura right out. McGregor, Clooney and Spacey, actors I normally laugh at and not necessarily along with, are all funny; and it isn’t that they have witty dialogues to work with, it’s just that watching grown men do elaborately silly things is a hoot.

Men Who Stare At Goats would have stayed quiet in the “you can watch it once” category if it weren’t for the lately awesome Jeff Bridges. He plays Bill Django, leader of the New Earth Army, the man who once vowed to fight the war with love, yogasana and drugs and he is absolutely fucking funny. He channels the Big Lebowski character in all its glorious hippiedom, only this time dropping LSD stamps instead of guzzling white Russians. His “join me in this vision” look is a thing of beauty and should be stored alongside Steve Buscemi’s “I loved my wife like a mother and a hooker” face in The Imposters and Bill Murray’s “I’m sick of these dolphins” expression in Life Aquatic to serve as a guide to future comedians. Entertaining film this is; come for the silliness and stay for Jeff Bridges.

Daybreakers: Vampires fascinate me. Charming, heartless, and focused fuckers. They have even made me sit through many soulless Hollywood films that promised a bite or two. As I sat through Michael Spierig’s Daybreakers in its entirety and lit a cigarette when an ugly black getaway car and Placebo’s Running Up That Hill brought the film to a screeching end, I realized that this was the second-worst vampire film I have ever seen. It sucked because I had gone in with lots of expectations. When a film promises a post-apocalyptic wasteland of vampires, mutated and otherwise, a villainous Sam Neill, and Willem Dafoe in vigilante mode, I expect it at least save itself from this level of crap. No such luck here; Daybreakers, with its quasi peace propaganda and stunted storyline, is just horrid. Irritatingly fast-paced, unimaginatively shot and emotionally-jarring without an ounce of respect for continuity.

The ending makes no sense and is just an excuse for the director to incorporate some John Woo-style action to aesthetically elevate his passive patriotism (seriously, who the hell does that?). The film is so bad that even Ethan Hawke can’t be blamed for it despite being on the screen for 90% of film’s duration. Having said, he still miserably fails as a vampire. Reality bites, Ethan…I welcome you to the club for Uncharismatic Actors Who Suck The Life Out Of Vampire Films…Population, you and Hugh Jackman.

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session 9

Session 9: I didn’t know this until IMDB filled me in a few hours ago, but I have seen all of Brad Anderson’s films. In fact I have enjoyed everything he has done. Despite being little more than romantic comedies, Happy Accidents and Next Stop Wonderland escape the suck on the merit of its actors – Marisei Tomei, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Philp Kaufman. As many of you already know, The Machinist is fantastic and actually does justice to Christian Bale’s method acting shenanigans. Of course, there is that gratuitously updated Hitchcock train ride of 2008 – Transsiberian – which then brings us to Session 9 (co-written by Stephen Gevedon) that was released in the year 2001. I watched it a few days ago and I must say, it has left me in a deliriously creeepy state of mind (much ike Wolf Creek, Descent, Eden Lake). The sort in which, you are strangely at ease with not predicting false climaxes since you actually care about what happens to these characters; in which, you are also not cool with the director’s sense of justice, but you choose to make peace with it for the sake of cinema. Seemingly trivial stuff, but constant reminders that there’s more to the relationship between films and free time.

session9

So, this five-member asbestos cleaning crew goes to work on the Danvers State Mental Hospital (now an abandoned asylum) and well, something’s not right. The boss man – Gordon (Peter Mullan) – seems to be a little over the edge, his best friend and crew chief – Phil (David Caruso) – has gotten secretive about his professional intentions while the other two – Hank (Josh Lucas) and Mike (Gevedon…again) – seem more troubled than ever before. Oh there’s Jeff (Brendan Sexton III) too, but he’s just a slacker who’s afraid of the dark. As the film claws its way towards a feverish climax, you are desperately unsure about what exactly is creeping you out; and when you finally realize the cause behind all the bloody carnage, you sigh and think about how enormously frightening it must be for blind mice to find love. If you are one of those normal people, you’ll probably recoil in terror and mumble, “oh that’s messed up”.

Ahem…anyway, Peter Mullan and Stephen Gevedon give fantastic performances with the latter proving his mettle in scriptwriting, as well. Tight, atmospheric, and gripping, Session 9 is definitely one of the creepiest films I have ever seen.

quarantine

Quarantine: I love zombie films. If my fears about the swine flu were to ring true and the dead start coming back to eat the living, I would want George Romero to come over to India and shoot a film about that. Hell, he could even title the film as  Had To Joke About Pigs Flying, Didn’t You? and I’d still love it. Zombies = fun. Needles to say, I got a real kick out of Quarantine. John Erick Dowdle, along with his brother Drew, took the storyline from Jaume Balagueró and Luis Berdejo (who wrote the apparently superior Spanish original – REC) and gave it an ol’ American twist. For instance, they bring into account the distrust people had towards the Bush administration. In this case, a bunch of middle-class folks are trapped inside a building that has been sealed up by secretive government agents. Inside, a cop and a military officer try to rally up the forces to ward off those pesky zombies. I am pretty sure I have seen this a hundred times before in different films, but I have yet to dislike even one. However I must admit… The Poughkeepsie Tapes movie sounds infinitely cooler.

dead_mans_shoes

Dead Man’s Shoes: My consumption of Shane Meadows’ films begins with Dead Man’s Shoes. I have read too many nice things about him for me stay away from his work any further. I guess I’ll post a Shane Meadows edition in couple of weeks, so I’ll make this one brief. Dead Man’s Shoes is a tremendous low-key revenge thriller. The premise is not original, but the atmosphere certainly is. The lush sceneries that embrace the screen every ten minutes, along with the lovely music score, do wonders. The film begins with Richard (Paddy Considine) scouting lambs for the slaughter, as we are told that this former army officer is out to draw blood from all those who did horrible things to his younger brother. And then we meet the perpetrators – some callous, drug-addled men, others normal blokes who just had a wild night out. There’s almost this Woodsman effect (a film in which Kevin Bacon plays a sympathetic pedophile) which causes you to question Richard’s morality – and that’s exactly what makes this film utterly fantastic (and also why Azrael remains as one of the great Batman characters). I will write more about Shane Meadows soon.

bottle_rocket

Bottle Rocket: Wes Anderson’s films – Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou – have redefined my expectation of humour from mainstream American cinema. Even the recent Darjeeling Limited was pretty great too. As much as I would like to habe them labeled as underground, they wouldn’t fit the billing. They have A-list actors, a decent budget and pristine production – elements that fortunately seem inept at tainting the humour quotient. Prior to watching this, I have heard a lot of nice people say that Wes was never quite as funny as he once was in Bottle Rocket. Well, I don’t know, man…I just wasn’t tickled by Bottle Rocket’s supposedly whimsical comedy. It was almost as though Wes Anderson let the more random of the Coen Brothers (not sure which one) take over the directing duties. While I could have thought of far worse directors to associate metaphorically with this film, it does lack the charm that accompanied his Wes’ films with Bill Murray.

The story is that Owen and Luke Wilson – two likable criminals desperate to play high stakes try to weasel their way into better lives. The jokes draw a laugh or two, but that’s mostly because of the over-the-top delusion of Owen’s character (Dignan). You can almost see where Wes Anderson got the idea for that Eli Cash character in The Royal Tenenbaums. Luke’s a miss in this one as his character channels the mild confusion that drives those kids in Beverly Hills 90210 and passes it off as existential grief. Together they get themselves entangled into silly situations until salvation reaches out to one of them. Unlike the film, life’s happy ending worked out much better. Mr Wes Anderson has grown to become an absolutely terrific director.

incident at loch ness

Incident At Loch Ness: So, this Hollywood producer (Zak Penn) ropes in Werner Herzog and a few others to shoot a film about the Loch Ness monster. Little does Herzog know that Zak just wants to make a blockbuster without actually giving a shit about cinema, art, German New Wave and all that. The thing is, another crew is already filming a documentary about Werner Herzog’s life so we, the audience, get to watch the making of The Enigma Of Loch Ness, and also the making of the making of the same. Of course, none of this actually true, so what we are left with is a confusing mockumentary that is both hilarious and silly in equal proportions. Directed by Zak Penn (who is friggin awesome as a mean-spirited asshole), and starring Herzog…wait, no really…dammit. Go watch Incident At Loch Ness and you tell me.

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